The Assembly Culture, Arts and Leisure Committee says that participation in sport and physical activity needs to be prioritised across all Government departments. The message came as they launch their Report into participation in sport and physical activity in Northern Ireland.
The Committee believes that the Executive must allocate the necessary funds to encourage this participation under the forthcoming comprehensive spending review which will set local spending priorities. As part of this, the DHSSPS should invest more of its budget on health preventative measures to encourage more physical activity.
Chair of the Committee, Barry McElduff, MLA said: “The Committee was so concerned about the decline in adult participation in sport and physical activity that it undertook an inquiry not just to identify the barriers but also to consider the solutions to getting people to become more active. The message is simply not getting through to the majority of people that they should take 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least five times a week.”
While the inquiry focused on adults, the Committee found that more needs to be done by schools and sports clubs to encourage participation from early childhood until children leave formal education.
“We need to think of ways of creating a habit of a lifetime by encouraging children from a young age to be active. This should continue into adulthood with employers playing a key role in encouraging employees to participate in sport and physical activity as part of the work life balance.” said Mr McElduff, MLA.
“More needs to be done to encourage sport and physical activity among groups with lower participation rates. Research has found that women, especially young mothers and people with disabilities have much lower rates of physical activity than the rest of the population.”